Aerodynamic design of micro air vehicles for vertical flight

Sergey Shkarayev, Jean Marc Moschetta, Boris Bataille

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


The research and development efforts outlined in this paper address the aerodynamic design of micro air vehicles with hovering and vertical takeoff and landing capabilities. The tilt-body configuration of the vertical takeoff and landing micro air vehicle is proposed based on a propulsion system consisting of two coaxial contrarotating motors and propellers. Values of thrust, torque, power, and efficiency of this propulsion system were measured in pusher and tractor arrangements of propellers and compared against single motor-propeller propulsion. With comparable efficiency, the developed propulsion system has very little propeller torque. Hot-wire measurements have been conducted to investigate the velocity profile in slipstream. The lower average velocity and significant decrease in velocity in the core of the slipstream found in the tractor arrangement are mostly due to the parasite drag caused by the motors. It causes the decrease of the thrust force observed for the tractor arrangement in comparison with the pusher arrangement. Wind-tunnel testing was conducted for a motor, a wing, and an arrangement of a wing with a motor. The drag force on the wing is produced by two mixing airflows: freestream and propeller-induced pulsating slipstream. The zero-lift drag coefficient increases by about 4 times with propeller-induced speed increased from 0 to 7.5 m/s. The results of this study were realized in the design of a vertical takeoff and landing micro air vehicle prototype that was successfully flight tested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1715-1724
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Aircraft
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering


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